In 2020, when battling present-day structural xenophobia and racism is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it can be easy to forget that courageous figures throughout history have been at the front lines of this struggle for hundreds of years. At the turn of the 20th century, journalist Jovita Idár, the subject of today’s Google Doodle, was fighting passionately on behalf of Mexican-American civil rights through her reportage as well as in her role as president of the League of Mexican Women. As a passionate speaker and advocator for a group that is still marginalized and misrepresented to this day, Idár used her considerable talents to advocate for her comrades, and there were sometimes dire consequences.
In 1914, while writing and reporting for El Progreso newspaper, Idár wrote an editorial in which she vehemently expressed her condemnation of the United States military’s interference in the Mexican Revolution. In retaliatory response, the headquarters of the newspaper were visited by a fleet of Texas Rangers, who intended to shut the publication down. What Idár did next sounds like something out of a classic cinematic western, and it’s the very scene depicted in today’s Google Doodle: she stood outside El Progreso’s offices and blocked the path of the Rangers, thereby forcing them to abandon their mission and turn back.
Idár’s dual passions for journalistic freedom of speech were just as fiery as her belief in equal rights for Mexican-American women, and she channelled her passions through direct action and tireless work. Even though El Progreso’s offices and printing presses were ultimately ransacked by the Rangers, Idár didn’t let that silence her work. She continued to publish stories in La Crónica, a newspaper owned by her father, and eventually took over the helm of the publication with her brothers. For the rest of her life up until her death in 1946, she used the free press to channel her desire for civil rights and equality, and did not let governmental suppression flatten her desire to see a better future for all.